As you may well be aware, NSW is coming up to our next state election! This is an exciting time for the team at PDCN as we get to re-evaluate our policy platform. Through careful consideration, we have put together six key asks in the lead up to the election. These asks cover a wide variety of issues faced by people with physical disability and align with PDCN’s member driven strategic priority areas.
Introduce a Human Rights Act for NSW
As it currently stands in NSW, people with disability are unable to access the adequate protections of their basic human rights. Despite being a signatory to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights Australia is the only Western democracy that does not have a Bill of Rights to ensure basic human rights are enforced by law.
With Victoria, the ACT and Queensland all having their own state based Human Rights Acts, it is time NSW catches up and protects the rights of its citizens. Having a NSW Human Rights act would give people a legal avenue to pursue their rights as citizens and members of the community. In states and territories that have adopted human rights acts, people with disability have been able to assert their rights to inclusive education and the right to housing.
Learn more about the benefits of a human rights act for people with disability across NSW.
Transfer the Disability Portfolio into the Jurisdiction of Premier and Cabinet
Through our advocacy efforts we have found a consistent lack of inclusion and cohesion when it comes to the disability portfolio across government departments. Currently, the disability portfolio sits within the jurisdiction of the Department of Communities and Justice. Disability inclusion is relevant across all state government portfolios, including transport, health, and education, and often requires alignment and synergy both with the federal government and other states and territories.
PDCN has joined voices with many other NSW disability organisations to call for a move of the Disability state government portfolio to the jurisdiction of Premier and Cabinet. We believe that Premier and Cabinet are better positioned to navigate and elevate the complexities of the disability portfolio that can overlap into multiple jurisdictions and achieve better cohesion across both state and federal issues.
Commit to National Construction Code (NCC) Minimum Accessibility Standards by October 2023
The refusal of the NSW government to implement the NCC minimum accessibility standards is an issue PDCN has been grappling with for years and remains close to our hearts. The lack of accessible housing in NSW is a huge barrier for people with physical disability, with people having to make compromises in where they live and the functional accessibility of their homes.
We want to see Silver Level Livable design implemented in NSW in line with the NCC mandate coming into place later this year across the majority of Australian state and territories. Implementing Silver Level Livable design across all new home builds post October this year, in line with other states and territories will vastly increase the supply of accessible housing and provide many more living options for people with disability, the elderly and families throughout the NSW community.
Learn more about our efforts under the Building Better Homes Campaign and show your support for this issue and don’t forget to share the link so that others can show their support too!
Unlock Capacity of Tenants with Disabilities to Access NDIS and CHSP Funded Home Modifications via Reform of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010
Housing and the capacity for people to modify their homes to meet essential accessibility needs is a major issue for our members and the broader community. It is often difficult for people with disabilities to get home modifications on private rental properties, and our research has shown that most NSW rental properties either don’t meet accessibility requirements, or only partially meet them. This is an appalling finding, as close to one third of people with disability across Australia are renters.
We are calling for changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 to allow tenants to access modifications to their homes, such as the installation of ramps or a ceiling hoist, without unfair refusal from landlords. Modifications funded by NDIS and the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) are essential and should not be met with unnecessary pushback.
Provide Additional Incentives for Private Investment in Wheelchair Accessible Taxi Services (WATs)
Issues with taxi services have been constantly on PDCN’s radar, with Wheelchair Accessible Taxi services increasingly not showing up, having incredibly long wait times and poor levels of customer service. The lack of reliability in this essential service has often led people to miss vital appointments and limiting the ability of many to attend social events. We know this is a particular issue for regional and rural areas, where oftentimes point-to-point transport is limited and there is a greater reliance on these taxi services.
PDCN are pushing for additional incentives for private investment in Wheelchair Accessible Taxis. There is a concern that drivers have ceased operating WATs and have moved back to standard taxis as a more lucrative business option, and this has left the fleet of available WATs getting smaller and smaller. With more incentives that encourage WAT use, we hope to see a larger uptake of WATs as this becomes an attractive option for drivers, ensuring this essential service is readily available again for those who need it.
We are keen to hear your thoughts on this issue! If you have not already done so, please complete our short survey.
Increase Funding for the Ageing and Disability Commission in Line with Current and Projected Demand for the ADC’s Services
The Ageing and Disability Commission (ADC) was established in 2019 and has been a significant factor in achieving equitable rights for older persons and people living with disability across the state. The ADC also works to investigate and prevent acts of violence, abuse and neglect of older people and people with disability both in institutional settings and the broader community.
Unfortunately, the ADC has been underfunded and thus unable to reach its potential. We urge the NSW government to increase funding for this important safeguard for people with disability and ensure continued adequate funding in line with the increasing demand for its services.
The PDCN policy team has provided copies of our pre-election platform to the existing government, the shadow ministry, the Greens, all minor parties, as well as the Independents. We are in the process of meeting with key stakeholders to push for commitments on these issues irrespective of the election outcome. We are planning a concerted push to get these issues across the line during the mid-year.